Wednesday, Aug 20, 2014 06:25 pm est

Kerry well-qualified to strengthen diplomacy

Posted on January 30, 2013 | by WSN Editorial Board

As expected, former Senator John Kerry will officially succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. Kerry received nearly unanimous support from both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, with only three senators voting against his confirmation.

Given Kerry’s history in public service, Americans should watch out for two particular issues to be addressed in the near future. The first is Afghanistan: Over the course of President Obama’s first term, Kerry was routinely sent to Afghanistan to serve as a powerful messenger and negotiator for the United States. Kerry has also, however, expressed deep criticism of the war and has called on Obama to speed up the withdrawal process. Now that Kerry has been confirmed, whether he will continue to be as vocal about his personal views of the war remains to be seen. After all, a critical component of the Secretary of State role is to stand by the administration’s foreign affairs policies — not to subvert them.

In the days leading up to the confirmation, many members of the press suggested that Kerry will be the catalyst for new environmental policy-making — the second prominent issue — in Obama’s second term. Indeed, he has strong credentials with regards to environmental policy and was arguably more attentive to this issue than any other member of the Senate. As chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry has pointed out that global climate change is a serious national security threat. Nonetheless, Americans should not expect to see a substantive shift in environmental policy as much as they should with respect to Afghanistan; unless Obama addresses climate change in an international framework, the State Department will not act independently.

Outgoing Secretary of State Clinton leaves behind an impressive and intimidating legacy. It will undoubtedly not be an easy task for Kerry to follow in her footsteps. However, the recent backlash over the State Department’s handling of the Benghazi tragedy has blemished an otherwise untarnished record, handing Kerry an opportunity to solidify his role as chief diplomat and national leader by improving upon the deficiencies of the department under Clinton, such as ensuring the protection of American diplomats and embassies worldwide.

Hopefully the transition process for Kerry will continue to be smooth so he can immediately begin tackling some of the most pressing concerns facing the United States, by exhausting diplomacy before anything else.

A version of this article appeared in Jan. 30 print edition. Email the WSN Editorial Board at 


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Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

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